Archive | April, 2011

Week Eleven…YAH hoildays!

14 Apr

Week eleven:

I found this week one of the most tiring weeks of any this term; I think it has something to do with it being the final week to a long term. I am so relieved that it is over because I feel exhausted from the work that has been carried out and completed over the last 11 weeks. I also have to admit I am excited about heading over to Australia, to the Gold Coast. It should be a lot of fun. I have had a busy, but fun term. I thought I picked up the school systems well and have learnt all I need to know to fit in and be a successful Manchester Street School teacher. It has been different this year, not so stressful, but I haven’t found it that much of a change, it is still full on and there is always something to do. I think it has something to do with moving to a new school and settling in to the environment. I have enjoyed it and love the change. I am pleased how well my team are working together and how well I have developed relationships with my children, parents and the staff (see Term 1 reflection for details). Tomorrow should be an easy EASTER day and I can’t wait to just relax with the children and have some fun. I am making them an Eastern bunny cake tomorrow, so it should be a lot of fun. I am exhausted, and really for a well deserved break…


Term Two goal:

13 Apr

Goal for Term 2


The goal I have set for myself this term is to do with the way I teach inquiry over term two. This is the focus for the whole school, but I also want to ensure I do it as well as I can. The P/D course, from Kath Murdock, also has inspired me as I want to use some of the resources she shared and the approach she shared with us. I want to use a inquiry journal with my children and work with them through it. I also would like to use some of the different activities that cover thinking, justifying and evaluating learning with the children. I want to talk about work as “LEARNING” not as work! I want to let the children discover things for themselves and for not me to give them the answers, but for them to use a range of sources to discover the answers.

What are you going to do with your

students? Why are you doing this?

A specific description here will

make planning the learning easier


I will know when I have reached this goal because I will have a range of activities completed by the children that cover certain areas (cover thinking, justifying and evaluating learning). I will have a completed learning journal that will show the steps we took, as a class, to complete and work through our inquiry. I will also see children finding out information independently using a range of sources. I will know the unit has been a success when I see all of this happening around me. The assessment in place will be having the children completing the challenge of designing or making the ‘machine’ they create.

How will you know when you’ve

reached your goal?

Was the outcome a success?

What sort of assessment will you

put in place for yourself and your



I will work through Kath M’s notes from the conference. I have written how all the activities are to be completed and how the inquiry journal can be created. I will work with my team and evaluate at different meetings how the process is going, what when well, what needs to improve. I will visit Kath M’s website and find resources, or readings, that will be useful in my unit. I will know it is achievable and will be really rewarding for the students to develop their learning.

What key steps will you take?

I will use the website from Kath M to gain resources and develop my understanding from readings. I believe it is very achievable and I will have my team to help me do this. I will need help with finding resources and maybe some advice on how to use some of the digital tools that will allow children to discover for myself, but I know I can achieve this J.

Don’t plan things that will be

difficult to achieve. Take into

account the age of your students,

the availability of equipment and

your skills.

What equipment and knowledge will

you need?

What will you need help with?


The unit will take the whole of term 2 to complete because this is what we have set as a team and as a whole school. I wish to achieve this by term 10 when the children so a final display to show the knowledge they have developed. I will reflect on it at this time too. I will share my journey with Faye at the end.

When will you have the planning

completed by?

When do you plan to start work on

this goal with your students?

What is your plan for ongoing work?

What is the completion date for


What date will you reflect and

assess the work?

When will you be presenting the

goal and the outcome to your


Reflection of goal one

13 Apr

Reflection of Term One goal:

The focus at Manchester Street School for term 1 is relationships between students and other students and also the relationship between the teacher and students. My goal for term 1 was along the same lines as this, as I wanted to develop meaningful relationships with all the children within my classroom and also within my team. I also chose this goal as I have previously worked with younger children, and I wanted to establish great relationships with the older children I will be teaching. I believe I have definitely achieved this goal throughout the term. I believe that I have built up great relationships with my children. I know that they respect me because they listen to what I say, they seek my opinion and advice and they try to please me, which shows a sign of caring. I really love teaching this age group, I feel I can have good conversations to the children in my classroom and talk to them about more complicated topics, and they easily understand. I also like the attitude they have (though I hate to admit it), but it challenges me to become a better teacher and to be on my game. I am really enjoying this level and would love to teach it for the rest of my career. I also feel that I have built strong relationships with the staff within the school. Lidia and I have developed a very close relationship and talk about how we are feeling and what we do to work through issues, it has been great working with her. I am so pleased with how my team works together. We are efficient and just complete what needs to be sorted out and are able to joke and have some fun together. I have developed a lot more confidence within the team and want to volunteer to do extra tasks, and talk to the children as a whole team, and feel capable when I do these tasks and I do them successfully for my team. Faye has been a saviour, and I would not have lasted emotionally without her. She is such a great support for me as a PRT. She is able to get what needs to be completed e.g. the observations, but she also has a relaxed way of doing it. I don’t feel stressed, but she calms me, which is something I really need sometimes. One thing that I was disappointed with this term is the fact that I had problems with parents, because I have always been so strong in this area. I feel I let myself down, but it has made me strive to do what I need to do and really work on what I say, which I always have, but it has made me more aware of what children can say and how things can be twisted. After parent teacher conferences I felt that the relationships I had formed with parents were positive and I was happy with how things resulted. I have settled in well to Manchester Street School and hope that next term is another great, but less busy, termJ.

Kath Murdoch- Inquiry

12 Apr

Teacher Only Day

Term One

Friday the 8th of April

Kath Murdock- Inquiry

I found this professional development course very refreshing and a way of inspiring me to teach inquiry better as a teacher. It was good to see what I am doing in my classroom that is beneficial and is a good strategy to use e.g. co-construction with the children. I was able to record a lot of notes and little points that really stuck out to me that could improve my teaching as an inquiry teacher. Some of the main points I got out of the course where:

–          Something Kath started the day on was with just a little comment, which really got to me and allowed me to see what I needed to think about when I was teaching my children. “The most successful teacher is the one that lets the children learn how they are finding out what happens. It is what makes them a person and helping the children to develop this for themselves”.

–          Velcro different bullet points under a particular heading were another great idea. If it was writing, then the children could have their focus of the day and the teacher can just detach it and share with the children on the mat, and then put it back when the unit or genre of writing was finished.

–          Booklet that outlines a set of goals the children develop. What needs to happen is that the children, once a week, highlight and select a goal. These goals are also displayed on the wall. The children put their names next to the goal they are focusing on. It then creates a support group with all the names at each goal to allow children to work together and talk about the goal they are trying to achieve.

–          Shift from saying “get on with your work” to “get on with your learning.”

–          Wait time is important after asking a question to the children, let them think about it, because most of the time teachers answer the questions themselves. Give the children time to think about what they are going to answer and say.

–          There are a range of inquiries that can be carried out, all are effective and have the right approach. These are: project, problem, single subject, integrated. Teacher initiated, play-based student initiated, shared, collaborative, individual or even sustained, long term inquiry.

–          I got out that rewards for work and quality of work is not good and has no effect on children work, but reward for behaviour is successful. I found this interesting and it made me change my thinking in this area and I have applied it to my classroom system.

–          It is important to give the children their thinking back, if they ask you a question, give it back to them, let them go and discover the answer. It justifies their thinking and allows them to think deeper.

–          Don’t scared or put of to use the correct language, even when it is difficult. Get the children to learn the language, no matter how hard or challenging it is to learn. It means they have the correct understanding of it.

–          When we are planning inquiry it is important to ask ourselves at the start of planning, teaching and delivering “what do I want my children to do as a result of this?” –self managers, evaluators and investigators.

–          Skills for life long learners- need to explain and breakdown for children to understand. Think, communicate, research/investigate, cooperate and manage. As teachers we need to teach children these skills so they are able to be successful.

–          A GREAT idea I got from Kath was to create an inquiry journal where the learning outcomes, final aim, W.A.L.T and all information used during the unit are documented and have a journal to show the process of thinking that has been carried out.

–          Wonder walls- another GREAT idea that allows children to put up, in their own time, to place a comment on the wall that they want to find out or talk about and they are able to discover it throughout the unit. Makes the students curious and it is important for students to be this way.

–          Kath’s website (resources and readings available).

–          Teaching children the right tools to use to find out things is important and NOT JUST GOOGLE! Talk about asking people, interviews, reports, books and then the internet.

–          Kath talked about the inquiry model, which M.S.S have now set up. It is exactly the same and I will use this in my teaching of inquiry as this is the way the school expects it to be completed.

–          Inquiry must have purpose to make it more successful and meaningful to the children. Give the children something worth knowing about.  Big ideas that should be talked about: social responsibility, environmental sustainability, personal identity and wellbeing and the physical world. Get the children to see these are important.

–          It is important to reflect as inquiry teachers for us to be more successful in this area.

Activities Kath suggested:

-C.S.I (colour, symbol and image).

Children talk about their thinking and how it came about. Can be great to see how in-depth some thinking is. Good to do at the beginning and end of the unit to see how their thinking has changed over time and after learning more about it.

-3, 2, 1. 3 words to describe a topic/subject. Then peer up and choose two words. Then that peer goes with another peer and they select one. Then the group of 4 are able to perform their word in any way to the class.

-Draw and label what happens when we are thinking. (this is a good question to ask children and see what they come up with).

-C.E.C (connects, extend, challenge) Look back over what you have been doing. What are you doing well? What can you extend to make it even better? Challenge- set up yourself.

-Highlights, lowlights. Children draw a line on paper marking the ups and downs of the unit, writing near these marks why the line is drawn how it is.

-Down one side of the paper what I knew BEFORE then on other side what I NOW know, in between these headings the children write about how they got over the bridge, how they gained the understanding they have.

-E.C.G (emotion, cognition and growth). One word to describe how you feel. I used to think… Now I think… Where do I want to go now?

Week ten:

6 Apr

Week Ten:

I am so glad this week is over! It was jammed pack with so much to do, learning conferences, Tuesday and Wednesday, Teacher only day, on Friday and sorting out planning for next week. It has been great to have a lot of release time to get a lot of what I needed to do. From Monday my week started horribly, but it has turned out to get better and better as the week has moved on. Monday morning I was informed by my team leader, that once again, a parent had complained to the Principal and assistant Principal that I was telling the children in my room inappropriate things, for example, that girls in my class where fat and that these girls needed to diet and that I was ordering shoes online while I was teaching and showing the children what I was buying. I am so angry that this has happened again, as it is not true at all and that if these people had come and talked with me we could have sorted this whole mess out without someone getting hurt. I never told any of my children they were fat, I never would. I was teaching them about healthy and safe lunchboxes, I used a government print off lesson from online that was suggested by the assistant principal, and read these main points out to the children. I talked about how we need to have fruit and sandwiches in our lunches as they give us more energy than other types of food. The children had a chance to brainstorm what they thought would be ideal food to go in the lunchbox and it was what they came up with not what I decided. I also talked about how we need to be fit and healthy as it keeps us feeling better. That is the truth and if a parent had asked me I would have expressed this message to them, but I did not even get a chance to express my side of the story, I was immediately seen to be in the wrong. The other accusation about me ordering shoes online was untrue. I did get shoes online, but did not order them in class. I was asked by the children where I got my shoes from and I replied I got them online. I am very annoyed that I was seen as the person in the wrong straight away and that because it is my second year at teaching I would make this mistake. I believe I am very professional and after the first problems that occurred with personal information being taken in the wrong way  I have been very careful not to share my personal information with the children. I have been working hard and will be making a formal complaint next time the situation is dealt with incorrectly. Why should I feel like I am the victim in my own work environment? I am so relived Faye stood up for me and talked to the parent and sorted it out. I think my term one goal is going well with all my other parents, it is just some that tend to make life difficult. I have a really strong connection with my kids and that is something I reflect on and think about how much we have developed as a class. We all respect one another and look after each other. I am really pleased with this part of my goal. I am a person that likes to do what is expected and be seen as a ‘professional’ and a very ‘capable’ second year teacher. I feel these problems are getting to me and are affecting my performance. I just wish the parent could see what they are doing. Moving on a lighter note… Before Tuesday’s conferences I was feeling very worried about conferences, this is because of the previous situations with parents, but after talking with my parents and going through with the two days I was so relived and happy with how they went. All of my parents where really happy and appreciated what I have been doing with their children in the class. I was able to finish early on the Wednesday after having a full day on Monday. It was great to see how well I get along with the parents and children now and to see the relationships developing. I can definitely say for sure that my goal for term 1 has definitely been achieved and I have grown through the difficult situations that have occurred as the term has moved along. I really liked the conferences at Manchester Street School because the children took them and all I reported back to parents was results and if they had any questions I was able to answer them. I think I acted very professional and they were happy with the answers and results I explained to them. I am so relieved that this week is over so I can just enjoy teaching next week. I had Lyn Ross come in and work with my team and I on our Inquiry unit, how things work. We decided to focus on machines, everyday ones and how they work. I am excited about teaching this topic and it was allot easier planning this out with my team, so we all knew where we wanted the children’s understanding to go and how we can lead them to a final result. I have attached our inquiry plan so far, there is still more to plan, but here is our thinking so far. We have a teacher only day tomorrow with Kath Murdock for Inquiry. I will write notes and reflect on this conference once I have been, I hope to gain a better understanding of what inquiry is and how I can teach it better. It will be great to see how much I can pick up from Kath, and what I can apply to my own teaching of our ‘how things work’ unit. Overall it has been a busy, challenging, but really enjoyable week. I have developed as a teacher and achieved my term one goal.


                            Manchester Street School

                                            Teacher Directed Inquiry Planning


Rich Concept:   How Does It Work?

Learning Focus:  Levers, Cogs and Pulleys


Title:  Everyday Machines

Year level:  5/6

Timeframe:  Over term (2)

Curriculum Objectives Key Competencies 

(Highlight and include in activities) 

L3 Science: Physical World


Physical Inquiry and Physics Concepts

L3 English

Ideas: Select, form and communicate ideas…

Structure: Organise texts using range of appropriate structures


Using language, symbols and text

Managing self

Relating to others

Participating and contributing 

Skills and Strategies to be taught (Highlight and include in activities.  Colour co-ordinate with activities below.) 
Learning to Learn Thinking Tools Research Tools & Presenting
     Goal setting

     Organisation and time management

     Tracking and asking for assistance

     Collaboration and group work

     Self and peer evaluation

     Reflective practice

     De Bono Hats


     Thinkers Keys

     Bloom’s Taxonomy

     Fogarty’s Intellect

     Thinking Maps

     Habits of the Mind

     Questioning skills

     Key words (Identifying and using)

     Internet searching

     Using contents & index

     Using websites

     Skimming, scanning & reading for detail

     Taking notes & making notes

     Sorting, interpreting & organising


     Use of ICT

     Use of software
presentation software & digital camera

     Layout and design

     Vocabulary studies



     Public speaking



Gathering  – Filling the pot with information and knowledge

Goal: To introduce the inquiry, saturate with information, and become mini experts.


Ignition – wow factor (create relevance)

Simple household machines (e.g. tongs) – display – chn to observe, try and manipulate (all)

Questions/activities on cards (Dicey)

Powerpoint – machines; questions (Alicia)

Youtube clips (Geoffrey)

Key Words:

Machine; incline plane; screw; cog; pulley; lever; gear; handle; gravity; load; force; fulcrum; pivot; balance; wheel; axle; teeth; speed; ratios; time; neutons; weight; wedge; distance; hinges


Teaching Ideas

           What is a simple machine?

           Looking at simple machines and how they work

           Purpose machines are designed for

           Process of invention; technological adaptation (toasting)

           Combined components

           What is a …lever, pulley, incline plane, wedge, screw, wheel, axle?

           Playing and making ourselves

           What are ways we use simple machines at home

Activities (add)

     Alphabet key about types of simple machines

     Brainstorming key about simple machines    
Now list in categories – where are these found?

     Use some of the seven servants to ask questions about how machines are used

     Question key. Write a question for the answers
pulley; lever; ramp; wheel; axle

     What am I game – twenty questions about a machine

     Key words; teach key words as a concept (internet called tags) practice using them in sentences then paragraphs on the data projector.

     Use blog post and the data projector to find, create and share learning collaboratively.

Reflection (Teacher portfolio)

     How motivated are the learners?

     Did the graphic organisers/keys meet the needs?

     Are students able to use some of the 7 servants to ask questions related to …. ?

     Have students been using ICTs?

     What barriers to learning need to be overcome?

     Do I have enough information and skills to go to the next stage?

     Is my reflection journal up to date?